Read A Small Town In Germany by John le Carré Online


John le Carré's classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international espionage with unsurpassed skill and knowledge, and have earned him unprecedented worldwide acclaim. A man is missing. Harting, refugee background, a Junior Something in the British Embassy in Bonn. Gone with him are forty-three files, all of them Confidential or aboJohn le Carré's classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international espionage with unsurpassed skill and knowledge, and have earned him unprecedented worldwide acclaim. A man is missing. Harting, refugee background, a Junior Something in the British Embassy in Bonn. Gone with him are forty-three files, all of them Confidential or above. It is vital that the Germans do not learn that Harting is missing, nor that there's been a leak. With radical students and neo-Nazis rioting and critical negotiations under way in Brussels, the timing could not be worse -- and that's probably not an accident. Alan Turner, London's security officer, is sent to Bonn to find the missing man and files as Germany's past, present, and future threaten to collide in a nightmare of violence....

Title : A Small Town In Germany
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780434109302
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 271 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Small Town In Germany Reviews

  • Lynne King
    2019-04-10 02:16

    I’ve read quite a few of John le Carré’s books and the only one that I didn’t particularly enjoy was “The Constant Gardner” which departed somewhat from his usual spy books. So when I discovered this paperback on a market stall the other week, I decided to purchase it as the blurb on the back looked interesting. After all, this is le Carré and he’s a known quantity and an excellent author.I started this and initially it appeared to be interesting. The location was good, being Bonn in Germany and I was awaiting the “action”. Well I couldn’t come across this really and in fact the action appeared to be contained in the prologue.So I started skim reading. Messrs Cork and Meadowes appeared to be very boring. Alan Turner didn’t inspire me either. He had been sent from London to look for Leo Harting, one of the secretaries in the British Embassy in Bonn who had gone missing at about the same time as some missing files.When I arrived at page 140, Chapter 8 about Jenny Pargiter, my eyes lit up. Perhaps it all happens here, half way through this book of 319 pages. After all, some books take a while to warm up. Who was I trying to convince?“I assume,” Jenny Pargiter began, in a prepared statement, “that you are used to dealing in delicate matters.”Of course, Alan Turner was and it was all about how she had met Harting.No, sadly, this wasn’t interesting either.I found the book boring, cold, stiffly written, lacking any sparkle and contrived. I continued to skim read through to the end and just closed it thinking, what a waste of time. I cannot believe that my tastes have changed that much. This book certainly didn’t “smile” at me as so many others have.

  • Helen
    2019-04-03 02:15

    No one likes Alan Turner. He's a spycatcher with the British foreign office, and if he's talking to you, your career is probably over. With gleeful ferocity, he tramples across uncrossable boundaries of diplomacy, decency and class.The year is 1968. The West is mired in the Cold War, the British have lost their empire, young people are rioting all over the globe, the Vietnam War is in full swing, and in Germany, a mysterious and charismatic leader is rising swiftly to power. Sensitive international negotiations are scheduled for the near future. Suddenly, a low-level diplomat disappears from the British Embassy in Bonn, along with a highly confidential personalities file. Find the file, Turner is told, but for God’s sake, don't let the Germans know.Turner is no Smiley. He’s cynical, sharp-tongued, dirty-minded, happy to make enemies, and worst of all, from the wrong social class. He begins his hunt by assuming that the disappeared diplomat, Leo Harting, is spying for the Soviet Union. By the novel’s end, he is trying to save his life. The book begins by taking us through the different departments, levels and personalities of the Embassy, a world with which Le Carre is obviously familiar. He has an other-worldly gift with dialogue; when the cheery young Cockney from the code room speaks, you can almost hear his accent. The same can be said for the Ambassador from the fancy old family, the career diplomat, the German journalist and the Polish immigrant. Layered, rich with detail, it does take some time getting started. But once I realized where the story was going, and what Harting has been searching for, I couldn’t put it down. The culminating scene, a massive political rally where we finally hear the mysterious Karfeld speak, is a masterpiece. As a private army fans through the crowd, beating up anyone who might disagree, the future tyrant plays to our worst qualities as human beings, calling upon the starstruck masses to embrace their resentments, their vindictiveness, their jealousies, and their unreasoning fears of the Evil Other. An uncannily fitting book to read on 9/11.

  • Kimuli
    2019-04-23 03:26

    I thought I'd read all of Le Carré's books that I cared to read. I recently discovered this one and it might be my favorite one. Chronologically, it falls between his early mystery novels ("Call for the Dead" and "A Murder of Quality") and the spy novels. It draws from both genres and is better for it. I recommend reading it without reading any reviews because they give too much of the plot away.

  • ΣωτήρηςΑδαμαρέτσος
    2019-04-19 07:24

    Γραμμένο το 1968, περίοδο της διαπραγμάτευσης στις Βρυξέλλες για την είσοδο της Μ Βρετανίας στην ΕΟΚ (...) στην βρετανική πρεσβεία στην Βόννη, τότε πρωτεύουσα της ΟΔ της Γερμανίας χάνονται κάποιοι φάκελοι απορρήτου και ένας... ελασσων υπάλληλος. Αν κ συγγραφέας κατασκοπευτικών έργων ο Λε Καρέ γράφει μια νουάρ ιστορία με πολύ παρελθόν κ ανεξερεύνητο παρόν. Με σκηνικό μια Γερμανία που φαίνεται να σέρνεται, πάλι (;;) πίσω από το άρμα ενός πολιτικού ηγέτη του δρόμου... η φαντασία του Λε Καρέ γεννά αντιστοιχίες κ σε τυραννα επί 400 σελίδες, σέρνοντας σε μαζί με τον ήρωα Άλαν Τέρνερ να ξετυλίγει ένα κουβάρι που κάνεις δεν πρόσεχε ως τότε. Μέσα από ένα καμβά προσώπων κ χαρακτήρων - ο Λε Καρέ ανέκαθεν ζωντανευε κ τον πιο μικρό ήρωα με μια πληθώρα σκέψεων κ λόγων - τελικά όλα κορυφώνονται στις τελευταίες 100 σελίδες, ταχυτατα και σαρωτικα, χωρίς μέχρι τότε να παρατηρείς το ξενοδοχείο στην κορυφή του λόφου της Βόννης όπου το 1938 ο Τσαμπερλαιην διεμεινε για τις διαπραγματεύσεις της συνθήκης του Μονάχου...

  • Lily
    2019-04-09 02:08

    Le Carre is the grandfather of all spy stories. Although a little slow paced, the story has enough depth to keep you involved. Unfortunately I think the female characters get stranded in typical gender stereotypes and none of them have enough spark to make you think they're anything but filler. However, Carre has great insight into the intelligence community and all the drama rings true.

  • Mary
    2019-04-14 09:26

    Le Carre's books trigger emotion in me. I'm not entirely comfortable with that but I'm hooked. Scratch the surface of his well-rendered cynicism and a meager optimism begrudgingly appears. Yes, we humans can be absolutely horrible to each other, but some of us are not and some of us care. Deeply.Le Carre's skill at presenting things not quite as they are, while subtly suggesting what is, was and probably will be, delights me. He is neither obvious nor inscrutable. His paints his misanthropy with a loving brush. I'm no longer so concerned about his anti-US reflex. We are too much like the British and too successful to write us off. I'm amused that some Britishers refer to us as "cousins." We are, rather, rebellious grown children who should have appreciated mum more. We have cultivated our own customs and habits. Some superior, humorous, some crass. I wish we could laugh together. Would that admit defeat for mum? I think not. But I'm not infected by empire.Objectively, this is probably not a five-star but I so love his perspective, male characters, settings and interplay. I can't help myself...

  • Cphe
    2019-04-09 05:27

    I enjoyed this far more than I originally thought I would. I started slowly making my way through the George Smiley novels and I'm glad that I decided to try this one as well. Well worth reading simply as a departure to the Smiley novels. Well worth the time.

  • Nigeyb
    2019-04-15 01:03

    Another John le Carré masterclass. This slow burn novel is predominantly set in Bonn, then the capital of West Germany, in the late 1960s, with a backdrop of significant political upheaval: numerous student demonstrations, and interestingly, given the current Brexit negotiations, part of this book's context is whether the UK will be invited to join the EU which was very much in the balance at the time. British industry was in the doldrums, the economy was in freefall, inflation was starting to ramp up. The cure to these ills? Get into the EEC. As with so many other John le Carré books, part of the fascination is the way he evokes a mood or an era. In this instance he was writing this novel whilst some of the events depicted were unfolding and this makes the book a time-capsule, and one I was engrossed by.One of the protagonists is Alan Turner, a no nonsense style Mr Fix It who alienates pretty much everyone he encounters, and the sort of flawed anti hero that is often John le Carré's stock in trade. He's certainly no George Smiley. He treads on toes wherever he goes and never sugars the pill however his dogged determination and ruthlessness get results. The plot, once it gets going properly (as so often with John le Carré there's 50-100 pages of often confusing scene setting) it's a corker concerning the disappearance of a junior diplomat who has taken a highly confidential file. Turner assumes he has defected before understanding that the real reason is far more complex and nuanced. The tension builds as the story concludes with a memorable finale at a large political rally. Superb stuff from the always reliable John le Carré. Any other author and this would be five stars but, rated against John le Carré's own high water marks (e.g. The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, Smiley's People), this does not quite hit the same dizzying heights despite being another essential book in the le Carré bibliography.

  • Patrick
    2019-04-23 07:06

    To be honest, I was a bit disappointed by the ending. However, this is much deeper than a typical Cold War novel. It speaks pointedly to the human condition, and the thoughts and emotions that drive people's actions, particularly when motivated by different things. It's a very good read from that standpoint, but the culmination of the plot left me scratching my head a bit.

  • Emily
    2019-04-15 06:13

    I read the vast majority of this book at a desultory, generally unenthusiastic pace, and I wish I'd known how it would come together at the end, because I would have given it better attention. The good parts: le Carré's close observation of meetings and interiors (he's sort of like a domestic novelist of the office, among his other interests) and wonderful bits of scene-setting, like this: "It was a day to be nearly free; a day to stay in London and dream of the country. In St. James's Park, the premature summer was entering its third week. Along the lake, girls lay like cut flowers in the unnatural heat of a Sunday afternoon in May" (37).The less good part: I found that this particular novel frequently trafficked in emotions that heightened too quickly to feel quite right--it felt to me like the author was trying to make his characters angry (or despondent, or whatever) and the characters were only grudgingly coming along for the ride. It took me a while to figure out what this reminded me of: it was the recent literary novel Swimming Home--though there's a difference of degree; le Carré's characters seem strangely tetchy whereas Levy's appear to be, in fact, Martians. So Alan Turner goes to Bonn, the titular small town, in search of an employee who has gone missing and is possibly a spy. What is going on here? As Turner interviews all the uncooperative staff of the embassy, one of them quotes the missing man: "We've got the big memory and the small memory. The small memory's to remember the small things and the big memory's to forget the big ones" (103). (view spoiler)[And that's where things begin to get interesting, because this book is specifically about German memory and German forgetting. In that country, the entire postwar period has consisted of conflicts between ways of remembering, in waves that often have a strong generational component. There is the sense of general guilt, and the sense that German civilians were victims too, the rejection of that self-indulgence, the reassessment of group and individual responsibility, and enduring questions of who was entitled to have responsibility or power when nearly everyone was tainted in some way. This book is a snapshot of a fictional future that appeared plausible when it was written (1968). The "spy" Turner is hunting turns out more a romantic Nazi-hunter than anything else, impractically taking it upon himself to stop a war criminal from assuming a position of political power in Bonn. You can move your capital from a big city to a small town, but you can't forget the big things. (hide spoiler)]Turner spends much of the book on the small things, tracing odd little details of the suspected spy's life, his romances, hobbies and failures. I confess that le Carré tricked me into looking in the wrong direction, too.

  • Huw Evans
    2019-04-15 07:59

    Written before "Tinker, Tailor" and set at the height of the Cold War,a junior official in the West German capital goes missing with a sheaf of confidential material. The junior offical is an emigre and his disappearance could be a massive embarrassment to HMG. The Foreign Office send Alan Turner, a bulldozer of an investigator, who is not prepared to let the niceties of realpolitik get in his quest for the truth. Turner makes no friends, that is not his job, but is unprepared for the complexities of the balancing act between post-war expediancy and wartime criminality - every country has its version of Werner Von Braun. This is a fiction about squaring the circle and how the truth can sometimes be a massive embarrassment. Within le Carre's oeuvre this is an underrated masterpiece.

  • Feliks
    2019-03-27 04:24

    'Shady doings' at the British Embassy in Bonn, Germany. That about sums it up. This is an odd-item among LeCarre's early works; and it is often overlooked because it appears 'out-of-sequence' --even, 'disrupting' the Smiley saga--and its protagonist seems to have been the one-off appearance of admittedly a rather boring and ineffectual hero, called in to solve a singular mystery, and then never heard from again. One wonders why LeCarre wrote this minor drama at all. I confess that I myself have no idea. Perhaps it is the result of a hol in Bonn?No matter. The story has a strange allure and appeal despite its drab earmarks. I've gone back to it for at least one re-read. There is very little violence; but what violence there is, is very personal. It is an intimate book; rich with atmosphere and the inner musings of its narrator (as usual) and rife with diplomatic detail (as usual). One yearns to see it fit somehow in with the goings-on of the Circus--which one knows were in progress at the time--but it doesn't. It refuses to. It's just an extremely odd, annoying-that-it-doesn't-match-with-anything-else, type of book.

  • Brandon Forsyth
    2019-04-17 01:07

    This made for great reading on my flight to Germany, but it's undeniable that this is missing some vital element of le Carré's genius. I think the critical flaw is in the character of Turner, the brash investigator sent to resolve the disappearance that kicks off the plot of the book. A lot of readers (and le Carré himself, in the introduction to this edition) will point to how wrong the writer gets the German character and where that society went in the aftermath of the war, but if we cared more about Turner and the places this story took him to, we could forgive that. As le Carré points out, the undercurrent of rage at the older generation was mostly correct, but was channeled in a very different way than what is presented here. No, the flaw is in Turner - we never really get to know him outside of his determination to solve the case (and seemingly piss off everyone involved at the same time). It's a Smiley approach to a Leamas type of role, and it makes the conclusion of his arc unsatisfying. Still, le Carré is a master of time and place, and the tension builds admirably. 3.5 stars.

  • Jenna
    2019-04-03 05:10

    If you want a good spy novel this was superb! Brilliantly plotted, when one of the officer goes missing, but existing artificial effect.......very clever.Leo Harting works twenty years as Chancery officer was missing, and an investigation was conducted due to the disappearance of the forty odd files that contained the most sensitive materials on high ranking German politicians. The rest are top secret, and Anglo-German agreements:secret treaties, secret codicils to published agreement.Since, Leo works with Meadowes "Turner" suspects that Harting was a spy. And secretly inquiring Korfeld's Nazi career, while working as administrator of a laboratory that poisoned Jews. Leo, found some evidence that will endanger him from Ludwig. While, Bradfield was unfeeling towards Harting's state of affairs, because he thinks Leo was an embarrassment and felonious.

  • Michael Martz
    2019-04-03 06:24

    Early Le Carre is still great Le Carre. As with most of his work, if you can make it through the long set-up and make sense of the British-ism embedded in the writing, you'll be rewarded with a fine novel. The 'small town' referenced in the title is Bonn, (West) Germany in the late 60's during the Cold War. It was a different world then, but maybe not so different since protests against an economic summit, issues related to NATO, and Russian spying are all in the story line. The plot is solid: a German national who's a long-time 'temporary' employee of the British embassy disappears with some important files (paper, of course). An investigator is sent in to determine if the man defected to the East. We're then treated to the characteristic Le Carre style..... lots of dialogue, many characters, interrogations. Not a lot of action per se, but enough to keep the story interesting and readers engaged. The writing is superb, the plot is solid, and when the investigator finally reaches a conclusion, it's likely not what you expected. I read a lot in this genre, and one thing I was struck by while making my way through this book was how different the reaction would be in today's world. There wouldn't be one investigator sent, more likely a team with a bunch of computer and forensics experts. The disappeared person would have been tracked via cell phone, credit card use, surveillance cameras, etc. I'm not sure all the interviews of his bosses and co-workers would have taken place, and any that did probably wouldn't have been as genteelly done. Would've been a different book, but if Le Carre wrote it I'd still read it!

  • Katrina
    2019-04-16 08:27

    My first by John Le Carre - a good read. I wish I could give it 4.5.

  • Maine Colonial
    2019-04-02 09:14

    In the novel’s late 1960s West Germany, political power is in flux and the western powers seem weak against the might and will of Moscow. Led by a cult-of-personality nationalist, Klaus Karfeld, with more than a whiff of the Nazi about him, elements within West Germany vocally and violently embrace the right. British intelligence is fearful that it will lose the country.*Then, a crisis. A minor embassy official named Leo Harting has disappeared, along with valuable and potentially damaging files. Where is Harting? Was he a Soviet mole now in Moscow?Alan Turner, a security expert, is sent from London to investigate. He’s a rumpled, working-class outsider with a bully-boy manner that immediately gets some embassy employees’ backs up. If you’ve read The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, he will remind you of Alec Leamas.Turner is like a catalyst; his questioning reveals each interviewee’s own psyche when discussing Leo. Each one also adds more detail and nuance to Turner’s view of the man and what he may have done. And this is nearly all Turner has to go on. The tenuous relations with the West Germans mean that Turner is under strict orders not to interview anyone other than Britons, not to search any German records or contact German law enforcement.In a Le Carré novel, the world of international politics and diplomacy is dirty and degrading; there is no black and white, only shades of gray. A Small Town in Germany is no different. It adds a slow-burning plot that leads to an unexpected but entirely believable climax.* Le Carré himself was stationed in Bonn in the 1960s, ostensibly as an embassy employee, actually as an MI6 agent. Bonn was chosen to be the capital of West Germany, and not surprisingly it was a key battleground in the Cold War.

  • Helen
    2019-04-17 05:15

    This is part of the early John Le Carre work. Set in Bonn in the mid 1960s we are introduced to the British diplomats and others who work in the British Embassy at the time when Britain was trying so hard to enter the EU. I thought I had read this some time ago but obviously not and it is not a good choice when one is not really feeling well. You have a definite feeling that LeCarre was in a furious rage against those who had been running the diplomatic service and missing entirely what was important in the real world. WWII was over and so was the Occupation of Germany. The Army of the Rhine was being demobilised, people were trying to create lives for themselves and there were statements by populists who said that even though Britain had defeated Germany it was itself a broken down entity and Germany should be allowed to form alliances where it chose - East or West, but of its own choosing. The cries for reunification were being heard. I remember that time and remember adults who remembered the War saying that Germany must not be united and must most certainly not be allowed to rearm no matter the rationale. We must not forget what was done under the former German government and they must not be given the means to again as they did in the thirties.All of these statements and feelings are brought out with examples that force you to really stop and think. This is coupled with the upper class diplomats who are concerned with treaties, trade agreements and power struggles. Underlying it all is the theme of failed marriages which drifts like a London yellow fog through so much of Le Carre's writing. This book is a claustrophobic study of life under a British government with no resources and war debts that looked like crippling the nation for generations if it couldn't operate within the European Union. Perhaps this is a good time to be reading this with Britain now stumbling its way out of that Union.

  • David Highton
    2019-04-27 03:11

    Written in 1968, against a backdrop of student unrest and British attempts to enter the Common Market, this is a compelling story set in the British Embassy in Bonn, where Le Carre himself had worked some years earlier. A missing German long serving Embassy staff member and some missing files see the dogged Alan Turner fly in from London. A story of moral and political ambiguity, with the class system of the British diplomatic community biting into the narrative, leads to a final explanation of the disappearance. Le Carre is a great writer, even in this relatively early work.

  • Hermien
    2019-04-14 05:18

    I found the plot quite difficult to follow but the ending was interesting.

  • Robert Spencer
    2019-04-11 03:11

    I'm probably being harsh, as I can't help but subject this to the exacting standards of the rest of le Carre's work. As usual there are moments when the quality of the writing almost makes you want to swoon - just the occasional paragraph of genius that you have to keep alert to in case you don't notice how great it is. But somehow the plot just doesn't have enough punch - maybe there is not enough of a sense of jeopardy, as most of that is invested in a character who we have no direct experience of. Well worth reading if you like le Carre, but if you are new to him, just don't make this the only one you sample.Oh, one piece of unintended irony worth noting, given recent affairs in the UK. The plot hinges on the threat of a potential intelligence breach ruining GB's relationship with West Germany - the main British fear being the loss of German support for their application to join the EU. If only Turner and Meadowes could have known how ultimately futile their efforts would be... :(

  • MisterFweem
    2019-04-18 04:14

    I’ll warn you, it starts slow. But then it takes you screaming down odd twisted paths and leaves you dumped at the end of the line, wholly unsatisfied, but ready to read another book by John le Carre.There, my one-paragraph review of “A Small Town in Germany,” the first of le Carre’s books I’ve read, following my long-standing policy of reading books that typically come to me through thrift store purchases, outright donations or are discovered being smuggled into the house baked inside loaves of bread.The one sympathetic character in the book is the one you don’t get to meet. The rest of them are anti-heroes at best, schemers at worst – which is probably an accurate reflection of the seedier side of mankind – the decent guy is the one you never meet. But then he’s not decent, then, is he? I won’t spoil any plots, but be ready to discover there are no white hats in this roundup.I’ll ding it one star for crude sexual references that add nothing to the plot nor to the overall contemptible anti-hero’s persona. The book, and its characters, are brutal, brutish, ugly and inhuman, as inhuman as the Nazis who inevitably become the book’s shadow villains. Nazis, of course, are perfect villains, because that’s their shtick. “Nazis. I hate these guys,” is an apt line to steal from Indiana Jones when reading this book.Le Carre has an interesting style. No one is omniscient in this book. We learn along with the characters, and as little as possible, to boot. Nor are we left with a clear-cut understanding as to how the plot is sewn together. There is much left unsaid that le Carre leaves to the reader to fill in. That’s admirable in a spy novel, because the true impulse is to wrap up everything in a neat package at the end like an Agatha Christie novel. The flaw with that premise is that life rarely comes in such neatly-wrapped packages. Le Carre captures that frustration well, and plays it to great narrative advantage.

  • Esdaile
    2019-03-30 04:25

    It was years ago that I read this book but I do remember being extremely disappointed. I think this is Le Carré attempting something which is outside the compass of his abilities as a writer. He cannot explain how any strong personality could rise to power and worse, he has neither intereest nor understanding in the ideas and psychology of the man or woman ambitious for complete power. Also, the book encouraged the weary cliché, fostered unwearingly by East Germany, that the Western republic was a hotbed of latent fascism. Susbsequent events were to prove that if any part of Germany was a hotbed of latent fascism it was in fact the former GDR itself.If I were to learn that this book had been sponsered or encouraged in any way by the GDR (as in recent years has been revealed that the GDR sponsered and encouraged Baader Meinhoff group and a GDR agent was behind the Jewsish grave desecrations of the 1950s) I should only be surprised because I do not suppose for a moment that the writer was a communist agent (!) but the story did read for me like a story that was written or encouraged in order to pursue an agenda. That does not make it ipso facto a bad book. After all, "The Lord of the Flies" served a cold war propaganda purpose (anti-Rousseau and the notion of man being inherently good) and is nevertheless in my opinion a masterpiece, but apart from the impression that this book was used as a political instrument, it is so poor that I doubt it would have been accepted by any publisher if the writer had been unknown when he sent in his manuscript.

  • Kev Bartlett
    2019-04-11 06:24

    The small town in question is Bonn. A sleepy province down the Rhine from Cologne which, to the bafflement of many, was chosen as the Post War capital of West Germany. A minor British embassy worker, Leo Harting, has disappeared with a significant number of confidential files. Sensing a Soviet mole a spy catcher from the Foreign Office, Alan Turner, is sent to investigate. All whilst set in time when there were genuine concerns the Far-Right could rise again in Germany and ex-Nazis remained free and in positions of government.Turner is probably one of my favourite Le Carre creations. A tough, no nonsense Yorkshire man he is met with suspicion and downright dislike by the civil servants and diplomats in Bonn, but his unrelenting interrogation style yields results. Slowly, amongst the petty politics and social engagements of the embassy workers, a picture emerges of Leo Harting and the potential reasons for his disappearance. I think on reflection this is an important bridging work between Le Carre's early Cold War classic thrillers and his Smiley/Karla trilogy. And they are classics; no-one captures that unique grubby sense of moral ambiguity better than Le Carre. In hindsight I just wished I'd approached this first after reading 'The Spy Who' rather than jumping into to the labyrinth density of 'Tinker, Tailor'.Simply put: another fine, memorable Le Carre novel.4.5 stars.

  • Simon Mcleish
    2019-04-24 03:11

    Originally published on my blog here in May 2000.Continuing the bleak atmosphere of his earlier novels, John le Carré produced A Small Town in Germany, which looks forward from the political, social and economic world of the late sixties in as pessimistic a manner as possible. (There are few clues for a reader today not familiar with early seventies European politics to mark this novel out as set in the future; it is only the publication date which places it before such events as the three day week.)Set in Bonn (the small town of the title) at a time when neo-Naxis are agitating against the English while the UK is canvassing for West German support for their application for EEC membership, the novel focuses on the search for an absconding defector from the British Embassy. Alan Turner, sent out from Whitehall to investigate, almost delights in upsetting people, uncovering unpleasant secrets and generally making himself unwelcome; yet in this atmosphere of deceit where face is everything, he has little alternative if his investigation is to get anywhere.The general tone of the novel is one of extreme disillusionment, as exemplified by one character's declaration that he believes in hypocrisy, as the closest anyone can get to virtue these days.

  • Kimmo Sinivuori
    2019-04-19 04:24

    Once again my quest to like a le Carré novel is proven elusive. All the ingredients for a great book are there. The setting is Germany at a point in time when for most, like the British, the wounds have healed but for some they are still open. The place is Bonn that brings memories to those who grew up during the cold war and the actors are diplomats engaged in the first and failed effort to bring Britain into the EEC. And the mood is anti-American with the students preparing for the mad year of 1968.thus, by all accounts I should love this book. But I just can’t stomach the way le Carré writes, it starts to look I never will as I've already read most of them. His dialogue goes round and round in great circles. One loses the plot time after time. When the dialogue breaks a circle and the story moves forward it shine for a while until it starts to go in circles again.What is interesting in this book is that it truly reveals le Carré the writer as a misogynist. I had sensed his dislike of women in the way he describes Smiley's wife in his later books but I hadn't realized how much he hates women until I read this story. Every woman in this book is described with venom. They are there only to betray, nothing more can be expected from them. I wonder why and I wonder whether the man behind le Carré feels the same. I hope not.

  • Bill
    2019-03-28 01:02

    This was John le Carre's 5th novel and one that did not feature his most famous spy master, George Smiley. The main character is Alan Turner, a Foreign Office employee who has been sent to the British embassy in Bonn to find out what has happened to an embassy employee, Leo Harting, a German national who seems to have disappeared with a number of secret files. This is a tense period in European history, set after WWII, when the Russians are heating up things, Germany seems to be in turmoil, looking at entering NATO, the European Common market, while students are rioting. Not the time for the British to be worried about whether one of the employees has defected to Russia with important documents. Turner, an abrasive individual, is the man to try to find out what happend. I enjoyed the pace of this story, as Turner interogates and searches for clues in an embassy that seems to want to bury the situation. What was Leo Harting up to? Was he a mole for the Russians? Did he have other motives for the research he was conducting? It was all very interesting, except, for me, the ending, which was without any satisfying resolution. At least to me, anyway. But still an excellent example of le Carre's story telling and his knowledge of political intrigue. A solid 3.5 stars.

  • Buck Jones
    2019-03-28 08:59

    I was surprised by how much I disliked this spy novel by the genre genius, John Le Carre. The story takes place over the course of a week, in Bonn, the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany, during the midst of a series of anti-British demonstrations over the UK's attempt to join the Common Market (predecessor to the EU). A "fixer" is sent from London's central HQ to find out what happened to a missing British embassy worker and the files he may or may not have stolen. The fixer, Alan Turner, is met by stone-wallers and deceptive embassy personnel with their own agendas. As he searches for the truth, trying to find any lead to follow, the story never quite gets out of second gear. The dialogue is difficult to follow - too much non-sequitors and asides, and the characters are also difficult to keep straight.... particularly the lower level embassy employees. The novel is a mish-mash of nothing, and only finds a bit of redemption in the last 50 pages. I would give it only 1 star, if not for the fact that there are the occasional flashes of Le Carre magic sprinkled in the pages, but not nearly enough to make this novel ever worth reading again.

  • Mike
    2019-03-28 06:20

    Re-reading these earlyish Le Carre thrillers after some 30 years has been extremely rewarding. It's hardly controversial to point out that his more recent books, some of which are quite fine, are not exactly great, so I've loved revisiting his work from the 60s and 70s and reminding myself of his enormous strengths as a novelist. This short, fast-moving novel is akin to noir - when a low-level agent from the Bonn office goes missing with a secret file, a special agent is called in from London to investigate. The agent, Turner, quickly realizes that things in Bonn are much more complicated than he thought. Le Carre presents us with a real mystery, as Turner pieces together who the agent was and why he ran away. Of course, it all ends bleakly and shrouded in moral ambiguity, which explains why I loved it so much at age 15, and frankly, still love it now.

  • Krista
    2019-04-15 07:02

    Wow! I had to remind myself that I was listening to the time when Britain was fighting to gain access to the Common Market, not Brexit. I had to remind myself that the right-wing movement and charismatic leader was from 1968 not 2016. So many parallels to today's geo-political world and such a good story on top of it.The reason I read this early work by John Le Carre's is that I was reading his book The Pigeon Tunnel and he referenced this book as the one where embassy life (diplomats and some spies?) were the most realistically depicted. I enjoyed that aspect, but the story and its construction were the real stars.Highly recommended!